“I FELT MY LUNGS INFLATE WITH THE RUSH OF SCENERY – AIR, MOUNTAINS, TREES, PEOPLE. I THOUGHT, THIS IS WHAT IT IS TO BE HAPPY” – SYLVIA PLATH
The Royal National Park, located just south of Sydney, offers some of the most spectacular coastal views in Australia stretching almost 30KM from Otford to Bundeena. It’s a popular spot among locals and travelers for camping, bushwalking, trail running and swimming.
To park inside the National Park, there is a fee of $12 per car, per day (this excludes camping fees). However, there is limited free street parking available in Otford and Bundeena outside the National Park.
I’ve broken the park into 3 sections of about 7-10KM each as it is hard to do the entire park in one day (unless you’re planning to run it!). Each section will most likely take 2 hours (allowing for photo stops) unless you are doubling back, in which case it could take you 4+ hours if you include a lunch stop.
OTFORD TO BURNING PALMS BEACH/FIGURE 8 POOLS
Otford Station is only a short walk to the start of the Royal National Park at Otford Lookout, otherwise there is limited street parking close by.
The trail leads into the forest where you will have to descend into Palm Jungle before coming out into the open where you head along the trail to Burning Palms beach and Figure 8 pools (Be aware of and understand the tide. Do not venture out to Figure 8 Pools if you are not a confident swimmer – it can be extremely dangerous).
This particular section of the Royal National Park is quite eroded in parts and can be quite difficult to move through, but it’s a beautiful part of the National Park and the views are incredible!
It’s about 7KM from Otford Lookout to Burning Palm Beach/Figure 8 Pools, but due to track conditions, it’s about 1-1.5 hours to walk there and another hour or so to walk back to the train station.
**Camping facilities available at North Era Beach (just passed Semi Detached Point).
GARIE BEACH TO WATTAMOLLA
The walk from Garie Beach to Wattamolla can take a while, so if possible, it may be easier if you have someone drop you off at Garie Beach and pick you up from Wattamolla as you will have to double back to Garie Beach otherwise.
There’s some incredible coastal views along this leg of the track as well as secluded swimming holes, beaches and the famous Eagle Rock. It’s a big climb from Garie Beach up onto the ridge top, but once you’re up, it’s a fairly smooth course to Wattamolla.
Allow at least 2 hours for this walk as it’s a good 7-10KM from Garie Beach to Wattamolla and you’ll definitely want to stop and take photos. If you need to double back to your car, it’s likely to take 4+ hours return including breaks.
**Both Garie Beach and Wattamolla get EXTREMELY busy in the summertime, so keep this in mind in relation to parking, as it is all limited. Best to get there before 10AM so you don’t miss out.
WATTAMOLLA TO BUNDEENA
This leg of the Royal National Park is generally the most popular as it is home to the infamous Wedding Cake Rock which has recently become ‘Instagram Famous’, so you’ll notice a lot of international travelers and locals out and about trying to get the perfect shot!
It’s another 7-10KM from Wattamolla to Bundeena, maybe a little longer if you head out to Jibbon Head (which I recommend), so be sure to organise your day so you have plenty of time for photo stops, and a lunch stop. If you don’t want to carry a lot of food with you, I recommend walking just outside the park at Bundeena, pop into the local Supermarket (IGA) and have a picnic by the water.
For more information on camping, parking or the Royal National Park, head to the website here.
Be sure to follow my adventures on Instagram!